Melbourne Cup Day

Held on the first Tuesday in November, Melbourne Cup Day is a day on which Australia’s most well-known horse race is held. It is a race in which more than 100,000 people attend each year and the race is aptly dubbed by the media as “the race that stops the nation.” It’s been a tradition in Melbourne, Australia since 1861.

History of Melbourne Cup Day

Melbourne Cup was first run on November 7th of 1861. During this race, 17 horse competed for around 700 gold sovereigns in cash and a gold water – with the winner taking the entire purse.

This first race, as well as the second race ran, was won by a horse named Archer that was ridden by John Cutts. This feat of winning two consecutive cups has only been repeated 3 other times. In 1877, the first Tuesday in November was named Melbourne Cup Day and was officially named a gazetted holiday.

In 2008, the Victorian Parliament passed legislation that made Melbourne Cup Day a holiday throughout the whole state – except where other holidays are designated. Today, although there are other horse races in Australia, Melbourne Cup Day is considered one of the biggest and most exciting.

Melbourne Cup Day Customs & Traditions

Since this day is a public holiday, many people have the day off. Which is probably a good thing because more than 100,000 people will head down to attend Flemington Racecourse to watch the races. It is even broadcast at some of the other race tracks all over Australia.

It is estimated that almost 700 million people watch the race live all across the globe. At 3 pm, you can bet that a lot of people will be watching the main race – whether it’s live, on TV, or on the Internet. And if all that fails, they may be listening to it on the radio. On this day, the people who attend the races will often dress up in their finest clothes.

A lot of celebrities attend the event as well and these VIP guests are usually served Champagne or wine. Many people will make bets on this day and some offices will even have a race horse lottery before this day, where workers can bet on the outcome of the race. However, even though there are many festivities on this day, not everyone is pleased with the races. There are usually some people who see horse racing as being cruel and will protest it.

Where is it celebrated?
Australia (State holiday) - Victoria
When is it?
This year (2023)
November 7 Tuesday
Next year (2024)
November 5 Tuesday
Last year (2022)
November 1 Tuesday